Commentary on Special Issue: Knowledge and Politics in Setting and Measuring SDGs Numbers and Norms

Image credit: morebyless via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

This Special Issue usefully analyses the links between statistics, knowledge, policy making and politics, and uncovers intended and unintended consequences of using indicators to frame policy. Many civil society organizations (CSOs) were actively involved in the Open Working Group, and some have continued their advocacy into the ongoing process of developing the SDG indicator framework. Some indicators are being reconsidered; but despite repeated efforts there is still no indicator to measure inequality between countries. There is a recognized need for innovative ways to supplement already existing data. The use of proxy measurements is already underway, and initiatives such as a collaboration between some UN agencies and Gallup. The active public engagement in the process that determined the SDGs may help to resist the reductionism often evident in translating from the goals to the targets to the indicators. The 2019 meeting of the High‐Level Political Forum (HLPF) will be an essential occasion to address some of these issues and to chart a correction course.